Obama struggles to reorder priorities amid crises, budget battle
With a nuclear crisis unfolding in Japan, civil unrest in Libya and a budget battle brewing on Capitol Hill, President Obama, who only a couple of months ago outlined a domestic agenda to "win the future" in his State of the Union, now faces an additional hurdle: reordering priorities.
CBS News political analyst John Dickerson discussed this challenge Friday with the National Journal's Major Garrett, the Washington Post's Anne Kornblut and the New York Times' Jeff Zeleny on his weekly Washington Unplugged roundtable.
"If you ask the White House this question, they very modestly say, 'well that's the nature of the presidency and you have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,'" Kornblut said.
"It's a big problem for them, trying to break through," Zeleny said. "It seems like every time this White House tries to talk about jobs and the economy, which is their overarching theme for what he needs to do for the re-election, it is consumed by external events."
Mr. Obama made remarks again Friday afternoon on situation in Libya, saying Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi must comply with a United Nations resolution to stop attacks or face military action by the international community.
Recent polls on Libya indicate that just as many Americans think the U.S. does not have a responsibility to get involved there as those who think the war in Afghanistan is no longer worth fighting.
Pew Research Center polls indicate 63 percent do not think the U.S. is responsible for a solution to the fighting between government and anti-government forces in Libya. In a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, practically the same number, 64 percent do not think the Afghan war is worth fighting.
Garrett had asked Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, why the American public is wrong at a National Journal event in Washington on Friday. Petraeus responded that he was not "selling the war."
"You have to be aware of the strategic context within which you're operating and obviously domestic public opinion is a very important element," Petraeus said.
Besides wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the budget battle ensuing on Capitol Hill with Republicans, Mr. Obama is also preparing to launch a re-election campaign.
Kornblut reported the White House wants to "wait as long as possible" before hitting the campaign trail.
"What they want is for people to see him doing presidential things and being president," she said. "That's the best way they think he can run for re-election."
Watch the full discussion in the video above. And come back to CBSNews.com next Friday at 12:30 p.m. ET for our weekly live roundtable on the issues of the day with Washington's top journalists.
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